Sunday, March 19, 2006

Flick the Button

First off, I haven't posted movie stuff since the Oscars. I've got mixed emotions about the Oscars. On the one hand, I'm always interested and watching, and I have strong opinions about the awards. But on the other hand, I'm consistently frustrated by the winners - too often the selections are based on externalities ("she's been overlooked for so long" or "this is just his year") rather than the strength of the work itself. It's a regular occurence where the film or actor (ar anything else) I'd pick isn't even nominated, let alone the winner. In fact, the last time I thought the best film made that year actually won was... Schindler's List? Maybe Braveheart, but I haven't seen two of the nominees.

This year was no different. I failed at my annual attempt to see all the Best Picture nominees before the ceremony, but I saw the winner, and I wouldn't have picked that to win among the three I saw, and definitely not compared to every movie made last year. Crash I've covered before (just re-read this post and I just realized I'm about to re-recite everything bad I thought about it...), though the more I think about it the more problems I see in it. I still think the direction definitely shows the taint of a rookie. I think the dialogue often falls into the pitfall of "West Wing-esque" talking points style, which just grates on me. Now the others I saw:

Munich: As I've written before, the international thriller is probably my personal favorite movie genre. So this had that going for it, sort of. It's too long, and the "climax" really didn't work for me one bit. Plus, some of the tradecraft seemed amateurish, and not what should've been expected of the respected Mossad (the scene where the CIA agents interrupt their trailing of a plotter in London is embarassing - no way any trained spy wouldn't have seen it coming). But the acting and suspense was quite good. Spielberg's direction isn't nearly as good as he's been, and this isn't in his top 5. But this is still a good movie, though it could've been better. As for whatever controversy the film has generated, I didn't really feel hectored. I'd suggest that this film can be viewed from an apolitical perspective, but there probably are some who want to read into things more than probably deserved. Steak knives. (Aside, I had yet another terrible experience at the theatre watching this, further giving me no motivation to go to the movies rather than wait for the DVD. In this instance some dude theatre-hopped and came into our movie literally 90 minutes after the show began and sat directly next to me in a half-full theatre. He came in, moved a jacket that was on the chair next to me and plopped down. Thanks, Regal for having exactly 0 ushers for 24 theatres.)

Capote: It's a simple movie, driven by a spectacular performance. Hoffman brought out all sorts of wit, annoyance, and likability to Capote. There isn't much more to the movie than the performance, but the simplicity is kind of what I liked about it most. A straight story told carefully and without anything getting in the way can be a nice thing. Even though it's simple, it could've been trimmed a little more too. Unlike Crash, the green director didn't hurt the film. I liked this more than the other two Best Picture nominees, but I wouldn't consider this to be on the level of a "Best Picture". Steak Knives.

And now on to some other movies I've watched recently...

Orgazmo: Kind of a mistake. Half baked and filled with rookie mistakes. There were a couple of jokes that made me laugh, but this is definitely not worth the effort. There could've been a funny movie made out of this, but this didn't make the cut. Probably the funniest thing in the entire movie is the opening credits song. At least it's short. You're fired.

Murderball: See this movie. This is the kind of movie that reminds me of why I watch so many films. The characters are consistently interesting. The sports scenes aren't the best (could've used some more detail), but the sport isn't exactly the point. The human experience is alive here. It's inspirational, but not how you'd expect it to be. No intrusive narrator. Incredible conflict and serious suspense. Plus, one of the best endings of a sports movie I've ever seen. Seriously. See this movie. This is a better movie than any of the Best Picture nominees. Hillary: I liked this significantly more than Grizzly Man, mostly for the universality and ability to relate to the characters, and I just thought it was more interesting (though I'll grant you the point about the sport scenes). Cadillac.

V for Vendetta: Hmmm... So much to like and so much to dislike. Dialogue: at times clever and hilarious, at times trite and grating. Plot: at times interesting and tricky, at times made no sense whatsoever. Acting: at times understated and subtle (even too much so, like from Hurt), at times goofy silly. In some ways, I thought the movie would've worked better if the England in the film were more fantastic and stylized. And I thought the action sequences should've been more stylized. If I were to compare it to a similar thematic movie, it'd be Fight Club, and this would not compare favorably. Too often it seemed the choices made were for the purpose of creating a more accessible blockbuster, which didn't really work with the anti-establishment theme. But this movie is also extremely interesting. Plus, unlike Munich, I don't think you can watch this movie without having some sort of cultural or political discussion, and that is something I think is a good thing, even if I'm not sure I'd agree with the film's suggestions. One thing: the extended lesbian in prison tangent... went on too long. Plus, if there's a film featuring lesbians in prison and the film isn't about "caged heat", it's probably not that good. How should I rate this? Very mixed emotions. But I think it's worth watching. Not a cadillac by miles. Somewhere between steak knives and fired, probably leaning toward fired over time.

One other thing: in the previews before V for Vendetta there was one for Superman Returns, which I wouldn't call myself all that excited about. But the entire preview uses the music that the Redcoat Band plays before the 4th quarter. So I was getting seriously fired up about a movie I couldn't care less about. Cocaine Bref was doing the four finger thing at the screen.